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M.F.A. in Drama & Theatre for Youth and Communities
Jennifer Arffmann is a first year graduate student in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program. She has been living and teaching in Austin, TX for the past 8 years. Working primary as a Visual Art teacher at a project-based public charter in East Austin, she has created projects that combine Drama-Based Instruction with Visual Art and core academic subject areas. She also enjoyed collaborating with other arts-based teachers to create school wide performances and plays centered around building and maintaining a school community. Radiant Child yoga trained with 320 hours of additional Kundalini teacher training, Jennifer has taught yoga both at the Austin Discovery School and at Yoga Yoga in Austin, TX. She incorporates movement and body awareness into her Drama-Based work. She is most excited about studying how creativity can be fully expressed when active drama strategies are used in conjunction with visual art.
Originally from Wayne, PA, Briana Bower is a first year M.F.A. candidate in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities at UT Austin. She received a BA in Theatre with a focus in Theatre Education from Northwestern University, and completed an honors thesis that explored the process of site specific devising with youth. While in Chicago, Briana worked with Light Opera Works, School District 65, Dream Big, and Chicago Children's Theatre, specifically with the Red Kite Camp. Before coming to UT, she was the Tour Manager for Child’s Play Touring Theatre, where she adapted and performed stories written by students all over the US, led summer camps, and developed cross curriculum story writing guides. At UT, Briana hopes to continue to research the power of story in the classroom and how the oral tradition of storytelling can inspire a culture of cross-generational learning.
Tamara Carroll is excited to be joining the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program at UT Austin. She graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from Reed College, after which she remained in Portland and founded Action/Adventure Theatre with several friends. While producing and directing theatre for twentysomethings by night, by day she brought educational theatre programming to thousands of grade school children throughout Portland and the surrounding suburbs, touring with both Oregon Children's Theatre and Sight Theatre Group on shows addressing renewable energy, healthy eating, energy conservation, bullying, childhood obesity, and peer pressure. During the summer, Tamara works as a theatre director and acting instructor at Buck's Rock Creative and Performing Arts Camp, an amazing program where teens explore a variety of visual and performance art mediums in a Montessori style setting. She is looking forward to an abundance of self-discovery and illumination in the upcoming years
Lara Dossett is in her third year as a Masters of Fine Arts candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program at The University of Texas Austin. Hailing originally from Chicago, Lara has worked as a teaching artist and administrator for Steppenwolf, Northlight and Writers’ Theatres to create in-school theatre education programs, write curriculum and teach residency classes. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and studied in London with the English Touring Theatre. Currently Lara is engaged in the implementation of drama-based instruction in Austin public schools through Drama for Schools, UT's arts integration professional development program for teachers. Her goal is to empower students and teachers to enliven and deepen public education through arts integration and community dialogue.
Meg Greene is a third year MFA candidate in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities at the University of Texas at Austin. She graduated from The Ohio State University with dual degrees in Journalism and Theatre Performance. After graduating from Ohio State, she moved to Washington, DC and worked as an actor and a teaching artist. As an actor, she performed in plays ranging from theatre for social change to classical theatre and theatre for young audiences. With over eight years of experience as a teaching artist, she has taught various topics in theatre and creative writing to youth and in professional development workshops for educators. As an applied theatre artist, she has taught and created work in schools, community settings, juvenile detention centers and with 4-H through Operation: Military Kids. Most recently she has taught for Arena Stage, Young Playwrights’ Theater, Imagination Stage, the Zach Theatre and Drama for Schools. Meg's passion is to create theatre with and for young audiences that provokes, excites and enchants while sparking dialogue. Her work is fueled by the desire to tell diverse stories and challenge the traditional representations we see on our Theatre for Young Audience's stages. She believes that everyone has a story to tell and she wants to nurture a space for these stories to breathe, to yell, to whisper, to laugh and most of all, to be heard.
Ben Hardin is a third year MFA candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from Traverse City, Michigan, Ben graduated from Albion College (Albion, MI) with a B.A. in Theatre and Philosophy. During his time at the University of Texas, Ben has worked on a variety of projects including Voices Against Violence (VAV) Theatre for Dialogue (Get Sexy. Get Consent. and The Healthy Relationships Project), The Evidence-Based Drama Practitioner: The design and implementation of a drama program for very young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their parents (co-facilitator), Perspectives through Play: Play- building as Participatory Action Research and Professional Development (co-researcher), and The Cohen New Works Festival presented by the University Co-Op (Director, Third Street). Ben recently finished co-directing a devised performance piece titled “Preservation” with the Youth Theatre Company at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas. Currently, Ben is compiling research for his Master’s thesis, interrogating the experience of pre-service theatre teachers exploring transitional identity through a play- building process.
Lindsay Hearn is excited to be in her final year as an MFA Candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program as well as the Theatre Teacher Certification program at UT. As a teacher and director, Lindsay has worked with students of all ages at Imagination Stage, Northwestern University, UT, Young Audiences Indiana, Evanston School District 65, the SEED School in Washington D.C., Paramount Theatre, and the Austin Independent School District. Her teaching and artistic experience includes directing scripted and devised youth theatre, acting, improvisation, and integrating arts into the curriculum. At UT, Lindsay’s work centers on teaching and directing middle school and high school students to promote positive youth development.
Megan Nevels graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA and spent 6 months studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. She wrote and performed Khawuleza, a one-person play about HIV/AIDS in South Africa, as her senior thesis, and plans to travel back to Cape Town to devise theatre pieces with HIV-positive youth. Megan has worked at UCLA as the Coordinator for the summer youth acting program ActOne and as the Programs Intern and later as a Youth Mentor with The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company in Los Angeles. She has been a featured playwright and spoken word artist at various festivals and events in Los Angeles, Claremont, Durban and Cape Town.
Meredyth Pederson is a second year MFA candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program. Meredyth is exploring the multiple intersections of teaching artistry and theatre-making in a variety of areas including arts integration, professional development, theatre for the very young and dramaturgy in theatre for young
audiences. She holds her undergraduate degree in theatre from American University in Washington, DC. She has worked as a teaching artist at Imagination Stage, Lexington Children's Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Metro Theater Company and ZACH Theatre. Meredyth is an active member of Theatre for Young Audiences/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY). She blogs about her life as a teaching artist at ArtSmart: artsedblog.wordpress.com.
Spring Snyder is an M.F.A. candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities Program who comes to us from Portland, Oregon. She started her theatre training at the American and Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City and then continued on to The University of Montana, Missoula. While pursuing her degree in Theatre Education, she co-founded a youth activist theatre group, and spent a year studying abroad at EWHA Women's University in Seoul, South Korea. Spring has loved the concept of theatre as a means of education and creating social change since the moment she realized it was a real thing. She has worked with Missoula Children's Theatre, Sight Theatre Group, Young Players, and Oregon Children's Theatre, and has taught Theatre of the Oppressed to a range of students and cultures from teenagers in California to Jesuit Priests in India.
Joshua Streeter is from the New York/Pennsylvania area. He holds degrees from Millikin University, Emerson College, and Mansfield University. Joshua has recently worked with several theatre companies focused on developing and producing new musical theatre. In addition to working in the theatre, he was a 2nd and 3rd grade classroom teacher for four and a half years. Joshua is an active member of American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) and is currently a theatre writer for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS). The Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities (DTYC) program will assist Joshua in investigating the writing, producing, and history of Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA).
Emily Aguilar Thomas is a second year M.F.A. candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program at The University of Texas at Austin. She received a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance, and a B.A. in English Studies, Summa Cum Laude, from Niagara University, New York. She has worked as a Teaching Artist and Theatre program coordinator for the Indigenous Cultures Institute (San Marcos) and Camp Mosaic for Isma’ili Muslim youth (Austin). She has also worked as a Dramaturg for Teatro Vivo as well as a Teaching Artist and Apprentice at Zach Theatre (Austin). As a Teaching Artist and Applied Theatre practitioner, Emily is passionate about working with and within marginalized communities. She is currently developing a theatre piece for pre-adolescent youth to encourage dialogue around issues of sexual violence against children.